Preparing The Perfect Brunch For Your Bunch
It's hard not to love brunch. Its flexible scheduling lets you sleep in a few extra hours. It allows you to take your pick of breakfast or lunch items. And it makes for an easy party, any time of the year. Whether you're a fan of the instant foods or capable of putting Martha to shame, there's a brunch menu out there perfectly suited to your skills.
Sure, everyone's coming for the great company, but it doesn't hurt to hold their interest with a great menu. If you're worried about creating cinnamon rolls, chopping fruit and squeezing juice at dawn, planning ahead will alleviate some of these concerns and allow you to sleep in. Devise a menu that can be prepared in advance and don't overlook ready-made goods, such as frozen pie crusts for quiche or puff pastry sheets for pear turnovers. Set the table the night before and, if possible, prepare juices and other specialty drinks beforehand, too. For items that can't be fixed ahead of time, gather and prep your ingredients so you'll be ready to go in the morning.
Make the menu reasonable in relation to your cooking skills, budget and free time. Plan appropriately for the number of people you expect, as well as for their specific needs such as vegetarian, or lactose-intolerant.
Integrating cooking activities into your brunch agenda may lead to more interaction among your guests. For example, if you've got a waffle maker, transform a tabletop into a waffle bar -- complete with batter and a variety of toppings. If your kitchen's large enough, or if you have a portable cooktop, you can even set up an omelet or pancake bar.
If you're expecting a large group and don't want to bother with place settings, set up a buffet. Keep the food eater-friendly (requiring little effort to get from the plate to mouth). Create a menu of that can be served at room temperature; this will eliminate timing problems and the need for chafing dishes.
For this occasion, the obvious choices are juices, mimosas and Bloody Marys (and its vodka-lacking counterpart, Virgin Marys). If you love the simplicity of mimosas, offer a variety. The passion mimosa substitutes passion fruit juice for orange; the strawberry mimosa is laden with fruit and syrup.
Likewise, Bloody Mary can be improvised, too. Bloody Maria (with tequila), anyone? Or how about a Bloody Maru (with sake)?
For something more elegant, get out the punch bowl and fill it with Champagne Sorbet Punch. For cold weather, try a hot one like an Apple Cider Punch or Mulled Wine.
So you've got the spectacular food spread and plenty to pour. Now it's time to make this look like a party. Sure, the local discount party supply store might have streamers and balloons, but this isn't your sixth grade party. Pin the tail on the donkey's not so suitable here.
Your guests will certainly come prepared to have fun, but make sure they're also dressed appropriately for whatever you have in store for them. If you're planning a game of croquet, have everyone dress in white from head to toe; you could even supply the white hats. A bocce ball tournament only requires comfortable clothes that they can easily move around in. This popular Italian pastime can be played on any level surface: pavement, your lawn, a picnic spot. If you're planning an outdoor brunch, either of these might be the perfect recreation.
Trivia games centered on the brunch theme are easy indoor options. For example, if you're hosting a bridal shower brunch, the questions can be about the happy couple. (Where did they meet? What was their first date?)
Party favors and game prizes are also in order. Give flower bulbs in pots; paint their names on the pots and you've also got great place cards. Or send your guests home with copies of the day's recipes printed on nice stationery; they'll have simple and cheap reminders of what a great brunch you threw.
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